Kara Walker: Back of Hand and Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies

Kara Walker: Back of Hand and Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies

Georgetown University Art Galleries

September 7, 2023
Kara Walker
Back of Hand and Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies

September 21–December 3, 2023
Opening reception: September 21, 6–8pm
Georgetown University Art Galleries
3535 Prospect St. NW.
Washington, D.C., 20007
United States
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday 10am–6pm

T +1 202 687 8039

The Georgetown University Art Galleries are thrilled to present two exhibitions of new work by Kara Walker. The de la Cruz Art Gallery will exhibit Kara Walker: Back of Hand, and the Spagnuolo Art Gallery will present Kara Walker: Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies. Both will be the first exhibition of these works in Washington by this internationally renowned artist.

Kara Walker: Back of Hand
Maria and Alberto de la Cruz Art Gallery

The exhibition presents a series of new works on paper by Kara Walker that examine themes such as complicity, racism, misremembered histories, and the violence that undergirds the legacy of the South. The exhibition was organized for display at the Athenaeum, the University of Georgia’s contemporary art space, by Dr. Katie Geha. We encourage visitors to the exhibition at Georgetown to consider the history of enslavement at this institution, making connections between Walker’s images and the landscape of the University’s own violent past.

Currently based in New York, Walker is best known for her candid investigation of race, gender, sexuality, and violence through silhouetted figures that have appeared in numerous exhibitions worldwide. The body of work in this exhibition represents her continued practice in drawing, working in watercolor, gouache, ink and graphite to create a series that calls forth the past at once mythological and real, ancient and contemporary. According to Walker, “I am always reflecting on the state of current events and the overlap of the historical and the mythic.”

Walker draws from a variety of influences in this recent work, recalling the political sketches of Goya, the caricatures of Daumier, and the “exotic” spectacle presented in the paintings of Gauguin. Two suites of work on display from her on-going series Book of Hours, started during the pandemic, capture the uncanny out-of-time sensation many of us endured during the early months of lock-down.  Some of the otherworldly effects of these drawings have roots in medieval illuminated manuscripts, and especially the private devotional books of hours for which the series is named.

Kara Walker: Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies
Lucille M. and Richard F.X. Spagnuolo Art Gallery

Kara Walker: Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies subverts and reframes the visual presentation of modern American myth-making. This work from 2021 is a 12-minute stop-motion animation in which Walker’s cut-paper silhouettes reenact several of the most gruesome and infamous acts of white supremacist violence in the country’s recent history, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh and the 1998 murder of James Byrd Jr. Inspired by the saturation of white supremacist rhetoric within the mainstream political discourse of the past five years, Walker’s creation of the film was prescient in relation to the January 6, 2021 insurrection on the US Capitol. Prince McVeigh and the Turner Blasphemies is an unflinching interrogation of how radical figures and ideologies ingratiate themselves within the national consciousness. 

These exhibitions are on view from September 21–December 3, 2023. They were organized by Dr. Katie Geha for the Athenaeum, the University of Georgia. Works on view contain violent imagery that may not be suitable for all viewers.

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Georgetown University Art Galleries
September 7, 2023

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